Question: I am 16 years old and came to the U.S. many years ago when I was a small child. I have no legal status in the U.S. and have been put in foster care homes for what seems like all of my life. My father left when I was a baby and my mother has been in and out of rehab because she is a drug addict. Is there anything I can do to try to get legal status in the U.S.? I have no other family in the U.S. and am desperate.
Answer: Yes. You might qualify for what is known as the Special Immigrant Juvenile petition. Generally, this includes those juveniles deemed eligible for long-term foster care based on abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Question: What are the basic requirements for this type of visa?
Answer: You would need the consent of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all of these types of cases. There is also express consent required by a juvenile court showing dependency. Express consent means that the Secretary, through the CIS District Director, has determined that neither the dependency order nor the administrative or judicial determination of the alien’s best interest was sought primarily for the purpose of obtaining the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, rather than for the purpose of obtaining relief from abuse or neglect or abandonment. In other words, express consent is an acknowledgement that the request for this type of classification is real.
Question: Procedurally, what must I do to apply for this type of petition? Also, if I am successful, what does the approval of this petition mean?
Answer: This type of petition if approved will grant you lawful permanent residency in the U.S. In other words, you will be able to obtain the Green Card. First, the special immigrant petition must be filed by what is known as the I-360 Special Immigrant Petition. Because the petition must be approved before you turn 21 years of age, you should also simultaneously submit the Adjustment of Status Application to speed up the process.
Question: What type of documents do I need to help support the application?
Answer: The Form I-360 must be supported by the following: 1) Court order declaring dependency on the juvenile court or placing you under the custody of an agency or department of a State; 2) Court order deeming that you are eligible for long-term foster care due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment; 3) Determination from an administrative or judicial proceeding that it is in your best interest not to be returned to your country of nationality or last habitual residence; and 5) Proof of your age.
The Adjustment Application must also be supported by the following documentation: 1) Your birth certificate or other proof of identity; 2) A sealed medical examination; 3) Two ADIT-style color photographs; and, where applicable, also supported by evidence of inspection, admission or parole. Since you are over 14 years old, you must also submit a Form G-325A (Biographic Information) and if you have an arrest record, you must also submit certified copies of the records of disposition.
Question: What if I am inadmissible on some other ground?
Answer: Actually, with this type of petition, there are many provisions of the law that are excepted from inadmissibility statutes. Many of the other grounds of inadmissibility can be waived.
Since you have no other way to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident, you should start on this application as soon as possible.